India: Pakistan shifting blame over Mumbai attacks

India accused Pakistan on Monday of trying to shift blame for last month’s Mumbai attacks and demanded it do more to dismantle militant networks.

India and the United States have blamed Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attack, which killed more than 170 people, leading to a sharp rise in angry rhetoric between the two countries that have fought three wars.

Pakistan denies any links to the 60-hour assault on India’s financial heart, blaming “non-state actors”, and has promised to cooperate in investigations. However, Islamabad says it has been given no firm evidence of Pakistani involvement.

“Pakistan’s response so far has demonstrated their earlier tendency to resort to a policy of denial and to seek to deflect and shift the blame and responsibility,” India Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee reiterated that India was keeping all its options open after the Mumbai attacks, comments the Indian media have widely interpreted to mean that a military response was still possible. Mukherjee said that was not his intent.

On Sunday, Mukherjee said India had given Pakistan specific evidence about who was behind the attack, including intercepted satellite telephone conversations and an account given by the lone surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasav.

“We have highlighted that the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan has to be dismantled permanently,” Mukherjee told a meeting of Indian envoys from 120 countries on Monday.

“Much more needs to be done,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s promises to crack down on militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

The tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours after the Mumbai attacks have led to New Delhi “pausing” five-year-old peace talks, while India also cancelled a cricket tour of Pakistan planned for next month.

The peace talks had brought better diplomatic, trade and sporting ties but little progress on their major dispute over the divided Jammu and Kashmir region.

The United States and Britain have joined India in blaming Lashkar-e-Taiba for the Mumbai attacks.

On US and United Nations terrorism lists, Lashkar was set up to fight Indian rule in Kashmir and was also blamed for a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament that took India and Pakistan to the brink of a fourth war the following year.

Washington and London have also asked Pakistan to act against such groups and offered both countries help in the fight against Islamist militancy.
But they have also urged restraint from India in its response to the attacks.

Pakistan has arrested scores of activists from an Islamic charity India says is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, but a similar crackdown after the 2001 Indian parliament attack was widely regarded as a sham.

India has also been angered by Pakistan’s apparent flip-flop over the whereabouts of the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad, another militant group.

Islamabad has said it did not know the location of Maulana Masood Azhar, after earlier saying he was under house arrest.—Reuters

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